The real Greek: Patterns of Magnificence

A colourful celebration of Hellenic sartorial style

In recent years Londonhas become home to a number of leading fashion designers of Greek heritage.This makes a new month-long exhibition, officially launched by Marios Schwab on Monday February 3 and overlapping with London Fashion Week later in the month,particularly timely.

Patterns ofMagnificence: Tradition and Reinvention in Greek Women’s Costume, atMarylebone’s Hellenic Centre, showcases more than 40 magnificent dresses. Theseinclude richly embroidered designs from Astypalaia in the Dodecanese, ornatejewellery from Stefanoviki in Thessaly and brocaded outfits from Jannina inEpirus.

The exhibition’scurator Ioanna Papantoniou says that “it is particularly poignant to noticethe strong influence traditional Greek costume has had on well-known modern andcontemporary designers”. She adds that this is also the first time that theseexquisite costumes, from the collections of the Peloponnesian FolkloreFoundation and the Benaki Museum in Athens, have been shown outside Greece.

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“Traditional Greekdress, with its abundance of rich embroidery and ornate decoration, is, in myopinion, unrivalled by any other European country,” says the Athens-bornaccessories designer Athena Procopiou, adding that typically intricate patternsand bold colour combinations have inspired her designs since she started. So it seems fitting that she has been chosen to pay homage to theexhibition by creating 20 limited-edition 140cm-squared scarves in two designs that directly reference costumes on show – and which areavailable from The Hellenic Centre and her brand’s online shop (shop.athenaprocopiou.com).

She says the Peloponnesian, a red and natural-coloured modal cashmere scarf(£195, left in picture), was inspired by the beautiful geometry and two-tone coloursused in traditional drop-waisted dresses. “I finished the scarf with intricatefloral detailing, a signature of mine, and one that also references Greekfolkloric costumes,” she says.

TheAstypalaia scarf, also in modal cashmere, comes with pom-poms (£350, right in picture) or without (£250 and also available from Cavan.com). The designincorporates the blue and white national colours of Greece and “a delicatebrocade-like motif that forms the scarf’s base, while the signaturekaleidoscopic flora on the corners mirror the bold colours oftenused in Greek traditional costume”.

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